William Klein worked for Vogue magazine for over a decade. The fashion industry is a central motif in many of his films although he claims to despise it. In this, his first feature film, he creates an art house parody positioned somewhere between the mockumentary and the moralistic fairytale. Using Cinderella as an extended metaphor, Klein satirizes Parisian high fashion and haute couture while perceptively commenting on the popular culture of the 1960s.

Vogue cover girl Dorothy McGowan stars as the Brooklyn-born supermodel Polly Maggoo. The quintessential ‘It-girl’, she is being followed by a French television crew and has become the objet du désir for reporter Gregoire (Jean Rochefort).

Shot in high-contrast black-and-white cinematography and edited in a frenetic style, the film holds a mirror to celebrity and fashion and previsualizes contemporary society’s obsession with the transitory nature of media and celebrity. A cornucopia of technical styles and hyperactive art direction, Polly Maggoo remains one of William Klein’s best-known films.

James Armstrong
Lecturer in Visual Culture, NCAD